ANAT on the murder of the new media art board

Keeping on with the news that the government has decided to destroy the new media arts board of the Australia Council for the :haha: Arts, ANAT, the Australian Network for Art and Technology sent out this to its members. Not only am I a member of this fantastic organisation, I am also in Taipei in no small part thanks to their Conference and Workshop Fund. I’m reprinting this in full, and hope that you’ll take the time to read it and protest the death of art in Australia.

Dear ANAT friends and supporters,

As many of you would be aware, the Australia Council for the Arts announced on December 8 2004 that as part of a restructure, it plans to disband the New Media Arts Board and Community Cultural Development Board. This follows an internal review at the Australia Council conducted by a ‘Future Planning Taskforce’, who have made several recommendations based on discussions with 50% of staff and members of the Australia Council itself.

ANAT as a triennial client of the New Media Arts Board is alarmed by this decision and in particular the effect it will have on artists and practitioners. The New Media Arts Board has shown unflinching commitment to the development of contemporary arts in this country. It has responded quickly and effectively to the increasing impact of technology and digital media on visual arts, sound arts, music, performance, theatre and dance. It has also recognised that some practices are ‘unnameable’in that they sit at the cutting edge of artistic endeavour and are experimental and pioneering in nature.

The New Media Arts Board has provided leadership in the field by acknowledging and supporting emerging artforms such as computer games by artists, net.art, bio-art, hybrid performance, robotic art and more. These practices situate Australia as a leader in innovative and challenging artforms that offer new experiences for audiences and bring new industry and education partners to the artworld. Australian New Media Artists are recognised internationally as pioneers in the field and represent Australia at major international exhibitions, Biennales and conferences. The New Media Arts Board has been instrumental in ensuring that Indigenous artists have access to New Media Arts practice and that interdisciplinary practices such as Art and Science continue to flourish in this country.

In order for Australia to maintain a creative and innovative cultural life it is imperative that investment is made into emerging, contemporary and community based practices. To cut back on this investment into artists and artistic programs is to stall the growth of dynamic and visionary cultural and artistic endeavours.

By disbanding the New Media Arts Board and Community Cultural Development Boards, the Australia Council loses vital expertise in these most important artforms areas. The ‘Future Planning Taskforce’has recommended that New Media Arts and Community Cultural Development projects are distributed across other Boards of Council (eg. Visual Arts Craft and the Music Board). The establishment of an Inter-Arts Office will assess some hybrid projects as well as providing ‘triage’for New Media Arts projects to other Boards.

These recommendations indicate that vital expertise from the New Media Arts and Community Cultural Development sectors will no longer be represented at Council level. The function of an Australia Council Board is to develop policy, recommend initiatives, assess applications from organisations and artists as well as representation at Council level. The Boards are drawn from across Australia and bring together diverse and professional representation of a sector.

The recommendations made by the ‘Future Planning Taskforce’are being fast-tracked through Council in order to meet the deadline for the printing of the 2005 Australia Council Handbook. There is very little time to provide feedback and as yet the Australia Council have not announced any forums for public consultation.

With the recommended disbanding of the New Media Arts Board it is vital that the Australia Council is lobbied to retain New Media Arts representation and expertise within the Australia Council, and that a process of peer assessment is continued for New Media Arts and CCDB projects. ANAT would urge the Australia Council to reconsider its decision to disband the New Media Arts Board and the Community Cultural Development Boards.

ANAT also urges its members and the broader new media community to contact the Australia Council and voice your concern about this disturbing restructure and the future of New Media Arts within the Australia Council. Despite the announcement being made just before the holiday season it is vital to maintain actions over the coming weeks.

What can you do now to protest the restructuring of the Australia Council, in particular the proposed dissolving of the New Media Arts Board?

Write directly to Australia Council C.E.O. JENNIFER BOTT j.bott@ozco.gov.au and BEN STROUT Executive Director of Arts Development b.strout@ozco.gov.au to lodge your complaint during the staff consultation period which concludes January 30, 2005

Australia Council
PO Box 788, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012

Attend lobbying meetings organised by the sector and attend any briefing meeting organised by the Australia Council

Write to The Hon. Helen Coonan,
Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
Email: senator.coonan@aph.gov.au
GPO Box 3513, Sydney NSW 2001
Tel: (02) 9223 4388, Fax: (02) 9223 4399

Shadow Arts Minister Kim Carr
Email: senator.carr@aph.gov.au

Electorate Office:
62 Lygon St
CARLTON SOUTH
VIC 3053

Tel: 03 9639 2798
Fax: 03 9639 3109
Toll Free Number: 1800 673 169

Write to your State based Arts and Shadow Arts Ministers

Visit the ANAT website http://www.anat.org.au and send us your comments

Write to Realtime magazine with your responses to the proposed restructure opencity@ozemail.com.au

Join the OzCoShuffle mailing list
To join visit http://lists.culture2.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/ozcoshuffle
Or simply send email to: ozcoshuffle-subscribe@lists.culture2.org

Maintain support and solidarity with friends and colleagues from the Community Cultural Development sector. Visit the ‘lets talk’section of the http://www.ccd.net website

We will be keeping our members up to date with proposed meeting dates and will remain active on this most challenging and alarming issue over the Christmas break.

Julianne Pierce
Executive Director
Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)